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The Apple Tree

Hattie Howard

Has ever a tree from the earth upsprung
Around whose body have children clung,
Whose bounteous branches the birds among
Have pecked the fruit, and chirped and sung—
Was ever a tree, or shall there be,
So hardy, so sturdy, so good to see,
So welcome a boon to the family,
Like the pride of the farmer, the apple tree?

How he loves to be digging about its root,
Or grafting the bud in the tender shoot,
The daintiest palate that he may suit
With the fairest and finest selected fruit.
How he boasts of his Sweetings, so big for size;
His delicate Greenings—made for pies;
His Golden Pippins that take the prize,
The Astrachans tempting, that tell no lies.

How he learns of the squirrel a thing or two
That the wise little rodents always knew,
And never forget or fail to do,
Of laying up store for the winter through;
So he hollows a space in the mellow ground
Where leaves for lining and straw abound,
And well remembers his apple mound
When a day of scarcity comes around.

By many a token may we suppose
That the knowledge apple no longer grows,
That broke up Adam and Eve’s repose
And set the fashion of fig-leaf clothes;
The story’s simple and terse and crude,
But still with a morsel of truth imbued:
For of trees and trees by the multitude
Are some that are evil, and some that are good.

The more I muse on those stories old
The more philosophy they unfold
Of husbands docile and women bold,
And Satan’s purposes manifold;
Ah, many a couple halve their fare
With that mistaken and misfit air
That the world and all are ready to swear
To a mighty unapple-y mated pair.

The apple’s an old-fashioned tree I know,
All gnarled and bored by the curculio,
And loves to stand in a zigzag row;
And doesn’t make half so much of a show
As the lovely almond that blooms like a ball,
And spreads out wide like a pink parasol
Set on its stem by the garden-wall;
But I love the apple tree, after all.

“A little more cider”—sings the bard;
And who this juiciness would discard,
Though holding the apple in high regard,
Must be like the cider itself—very hard;
For the spirit within it, as all must know,
Is utterly harmless—unless we go
Like the fool in his folly, and overflow
By drinking a couple of barrels or so.

What of that apple beyond the seas,
Fruit of the famed Hesperides?
But dust and ashes compared to these
That grow on Columbia’s apple trees;
And I sigh for the apples of years agone:
For Rambos streaked like the morning dawn,
For Russets brown with their jackets on,
And aromatic as cinnamon.

Oh, the peach and cherry may have their place,
And the pear is fine in its stately grace;
The plum belongs to a puckery race
And maketh awry the mouth and face;
But I long to roam in the orchard free,
The dear old orchard that used to be,
And gather the beauties that dropped for me
From the bending boughs of the apple tree.
Online text © 1998-2017 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Poems | Hartford Press, 1904
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